On the L

There’s always something happening on the L. That was this morning’s lesson. First off, I want to applaud Chicago’s transit system. I have been so thankful for the fast, reliable and constant trains that ferry me throughout the city. This has been key to my survival here. If you’re going to visit Chicago, spring for the unlimited pass. It’s totally worth it.

So, last week, I was sitting on the blue line riding into the city. In my particular train car, there weren’t many seats available, except near a sleeping homeless man. So, naturally, not wanting to stand the whole way, I sat across the aisle from him and let him sleep. Now to understand this you must know that we are sitting at the front of the car and there is a small, one person seat in the awkward corner. The woman who was sitting there taking to herself about demons got off the train… Lucky for her…

The homeless man wakes up and starts looking around uncomfortably… And I mean uncomfortably. As you can imagine, the more uncomfortable the man gets, the more uncomfortable I get. What a crisis. He finally manages to stumble to his feet on a moving train and stumbles across to the one seat area. Facing the wall, I hear a zipper pull down. I say to myself, “Oh no. Oh crap!”

The point I got up to move away from him is when I hear a steady stream of pee hitting the floor and wall of the train. I think to myself, “Oh so when it smells like pee, that’s because someone ACTUALLY peed.”

This is just one of many experiences I’ve had on the L. Today during rush hour, I saw the same homeless man and it smelled strongly of pee, let’s just say I quickly moved along.

As funny and embarrassing as this story is, it makes me think about disappointments in life. It’s not really a secret, I hated Chicago when we first got here. I left my job, which I loved, and moved to one of the coldest places to be during January. In addition to this, I was totally on my own in a big scary, dirty city. I was extremely disheartened because I didn’t have anything to do. My life was empty and I simply didn’t know what to do with myself.

Despair. Utter despair set in for about a week. Then it changed, I signed up for a yoga class, started planning on when I was going to this movie, that museum and found restaurants to visit. Oh boy, there is some tasty food in Chicago. I could change my situation. I have been privileged to have money and a roof over my head. Then, I start to think of the homeless man and how utterly resigned he is to his situation. How discouraging and dehabilitating it must be to not only have no purpose for your time, but no possible idea of how your life could look any different.

If that was my life I would probably want to sleep on the warm train all day, and I probably wouldn’t care how embarrassing it was to use my train car as a bathroom in the presence of 30 other people. So I end this post with a not of thanksgiving. Thank you God for providing everything I need, thank you for being a Creator who gives good gifts to those who want to accept them. Dear Lord, have mercy on those who go without.

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